Virginia Lawmakers Vote to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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Anyone who gets caught with a small amount of marijuana in Virginia could soon face a small fine instead of a court case, larger expenses and possible jail time.

The majority of members of the Virginia State Senate voted Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state House passed a similar bill with bipartisan support the previous day.

Virginia’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Mark Herring, called the votes a “really important first step in the right direction.”

“For too long, Virginia’s approach to cannabis has needlessly saddled Virginians, especially African Americans and people of color, with criminal records, but with these votes that is finally coming to an end,” he said in a statement.

Charniele Herring@C_Herring

My bill, HB 972 just passed the House! It decriminalizes simple marijuana possession in the Commonwealth. Since this issue disproportionately affects people of color, it is an important first step in combating the racial disparities in the Virginia criminal justice system.

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The House bill would make marijuana possession a civil penalty of no more than $25. The Senate bill puts the maximum fine at $50.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signaled his support for the measures.

Adam Ebbin@AdamEbbin

SB2 – which decimalizes marijuana possession, passes the Senate 27-13. This is a major step forward for criminal justice reform! I look forward to working to pass it through the House and into law.

The number of first-time marijuana convictions in Virginia jumped from 9,000 in 1999 to nearly 29,000 in 2018, Herring said.
Read more from the source: NBCWashington.com

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